cover image Irish Girl: Stories

Irish Girl: Stories

Tim Johnston, . . Univ. of North Texas, $12.95 (137pp) ISBN 978-1-57441-271-0

You have to read closely so as not to miss significant clues in these tightly coiled stories by Katherine Anne Porter Prize–winner Johnston (Never So Green ), who ventures deeply into the consciousness of Midwesterners to unearth old tensions and buried animosities. In “Water,” he balances a marvelously multilayered plot involving a widowed mother of now grown twin boys (“one healthy, one not”) who recognizes how her protectiveness of her sons—even if one commits a horrible crime—supersedes the ties she holds to her past. “Dirt Men” finds Buddy Jr., the son of a local excavating entrepreneur, returned home in disgrace from the Colorado college where he was teaching and trapped within the intersection of his past and his hubris when the dismembered body of a woman is found in an auto salvage lot. In “Things Go Missing,” Johnston enters the mind of a young woman burglar whose seemingly senseless thefts (such as her shrink's autographed Michael Jordan poster) allows her to connect finally with someone, despite the pain she inflicts. These beautifully rendered tales deliver an emotional wallop. (Nov.)